My primary only wants me to date women. Is this reasonable? | I'm Poly and So Can You
I'm pretty sexually fluid, but lately I only fantasize about having sex with men. My primary admitted recently he struggles more with jealousy when I'm with other men and that he only wants me to date women for the foreseeable future. Is this reasonable?*
*This post has been updated from its original text - please see the additional edit at the bottom!
I feel like I get some iteration of this question fairly often - perhaps more often than any other!
In short, it’s not uncommon for us to have more jealousy around our partners showing interest in people that we closely identify with and can easily compare ourselves to. Depending on what our individual insecurities look like, this intimidation can be physical, intellectual, sexual, etc, and it crops up much more often in dynamics between people socialized female, as we’re largely taught to view one another as “competition” first. That being said, masc folks are certainly not immune to it, and to pretend otherwise doesn’t leave room for the full nuance of a healthy masculine identity that allows for anxiety, insecurity, hesitation, emotional angst...In short, “vulnerability”, which we should be encouraging those who are socialized male to embrace.
For example, when one of my partners is interested in another queer cis femme sex worker, my hackles will rise much higher than they would if the interest lay in a more masculine-identified person. All of this is in direct contrast to my logical brain: The part of me that only wants to shower other femmes with love, support, and acceptance. To elevate them. The roots of this perceived competitiveness run so deep, they permeate even the most radical, alternative, and/or creative of relationship structures.
Normally, with these kinds of quandaries, I encourage lots of patient, transparent, empathetic conversation between the partners in question. I’d encourage your primary partner to elaborate on where this proposed boundary is coming from. By pulling both more information and more emotion out of him around this topic, you may gain perspective - or have a different context - for the situation that gives you increased empathy. For example, perhaps your primary endured the experience of a past infidelity, where another man swept his partner off her feet and spirited her away. Or, maybe your primary was bullied frequently by other boys throughout his adolescence, never really feeling embraced by them, and his wariness has carried over into adulthood. You’ll never know unless you ask!
While it may not be reasonable to ask you to NEVER again partner with another man, it IS reasonable to agree to a temporary grace period where you honor his request. The caveat, however, is that he work proactively on his own issues of insecurity, competitiveness, and jealousy, preferably with a professional. Set a check-in time - 3 months? 6 months? - with the understanding that you will support him wholeheartedly through this process, as long as he knows that you’ll be revisiting the situation at a pre negotiated point in time.
I also believe very strongly in the “quid pro quo” principle of polyamory. I’m not sure how your primary identifies, but assuming that he’s heterosexual and seeks outside intimacy exclusively from women, it would be in your purview to request that as long as you’re honoring his TEMPORARY request to refrain from dating men, he should offer a similar sacrifice and refrain from pursuing other - new - women (I don’t think the situation necessarily calls for an abolishing of any relationships that are already in progress).
But now, here’s a challenging twist: What if you could get your wants and needs met, while still honoring your partner’s wishes? What if you could have your cake, scarf it down, and not have to hide the crumbling evidence from your primary?
I make this proposition because it sounds like, based on your breadth of desire, that you’re operating from a queer sexuality. I will now speak only from my personal experience as a queer woman:
I date and desire people from all areas of the gender identity and presentation spectrum. When I first came out as queer, I had a much more binary way of seeing gender. When I desired masculine energy or dynamics, I’d seek out cisgender men, and when I desired feminine energy or dynamics, I’d seek out cisgender women. As I gained access to transgender communities and kink communities - two demographics that encourage exploration and experimentation with gender - I found that I could actually get my needs met much more creatively than I’d originally guessed. Now, if I’m mostly dating feminine folks and am craving that masculine energy, I know that I can feed that hunger in a variety of ways. I can seek out a MoC (Masculine of Center) gender non-conforming partner, like a transgender man, or even a very “butch”-identified woman who emanates safe, non-toxic masculinity. Or I can propose some role play scenarios with one of my feminine partners, where they take on a more traditionally masculine persona (complete with strap-on cock, of course!). Perhaps they’re my sexy college professor, a hot guy I picked up at a wedding, or even a burglar who takes me “against my will” (huzzah for consensual non-consent!).
The beauty of queer sexuality is that we have the power - moreso than straight people - to write the fuck out of our own sensual narratives. The sky is our limit!
*After promoting this particular blog post, it came to my attention that for some, the latter half of the advice smelled like transmisogyny and/or that I was encouraging heterosexual people to infiltrate queer communities and pursue LGBT relationships disingenuously. I'm leaving the original post as is because I largely still stand by my advice, however:
Addressing possible transmisogyny concerns: In no way have I ever - or will I ever - suggest that trans men are not "real" men. Transgender men are men, and transgender women are women. I'd never seek to invalidate that. The entire "queer sexuality digression" was not to illustrate all of the woman in question's potential opportunities to play "gotcha!" with her cis male partner, but to explain that there are SO MANY WAYS to fulfill desires for other gender exploration and dynamics other than sticking to the binary cis-man-or-cis-woman rhetoric.
Addressing possible dishonest-infiltrating-of-the-LGBT-community concerns: I would never suggest someone take a "fake it till you make it" approach with dating ANYONE, least of all a POC and/or trans person. I was suggesting in a very general sense that the woman in question broaden her working definition of what it means to get your needs met "by a man" - assuming that she's only considered cisgender men up until this point. From the way she worded her question, I can only assume that she - at the very least - has the potential to desire women, as her partner suggested it and she didn't scrunch her face up in disgust. It would be my hope that moving forward, the woman would be ethical enough to "dip her toes" in a queerer sexuality with transparency and authenticity always. Not jumping in a relationship with a queer individual willy-nilly, but perhaps starting out with sharing space with queerer demographics - going to events, etc - striking up friendships, then perhaps having some casual sexual experiences (where she's open and honest with the queer person ahead of time about where she currently is in her both her sexual journey and her primary relationship), and THEN potentially progress to an accessory relationship.
Thanks so much for reading, as well as for your invaluable feedback!